Khalil Mack, Bears Defense Completely Disrespected in Latest PFF Rankings

Khalil Mack and Akiem Hicks

Getty Khalil Mack and Akiem Hicks of the Chicago Bears

The addition of pass rusher Robert Quinn has arguably made the Chicago Bears defense even better than it has been in recent years — and that’s saying something. The Bears had a top-three defense in 2018, and they ranked in the top 10 again last season, despite seeing a predicted dip in turnovers and sacks. This offseason, they let Leonard Floyd walk and signed Quinn to a five-year deal, immediately upping their edge rush in the process.

Quinn and All-Pro Khalil Mack combined for 20 sacks, seven forced fumbles and 36 quarterback hits last year, and now they’ll be playing on the same line alongside Danny Trevathan, Akiem Hicks and Eddie Goldman, among others, with a secondary that also features All-Pros Eddie Jackson and Kyle Fuller.

So just how good is the potential duo of Mack and Robert Quinn? According to Pro Football Focus, they’re not even in the top five on a list of the league’s best edge defender duos.

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Mack – Quinn Given ‘Honorable Mention’ Status as Edge Duo

PFF’s top pass-rushing duo isn’t a duo at all. They selected Nick Bosa, Dee Ford and Arik Armstead of the San Francisco 49ers as the best pass-rushing group in the league. Few would argue against that, and I won’t here, although Ford is coming off major surgery, and many wonder if he’ll be the same player this season.

But if trios were an option — and here’s the primary problem and omission here — then how in the world could Akiem Hicks have been ignored when considering Mack and Quinn’s workload?! Hicks’ 2019 season was hampered by knee and elbow injuries, but he didn’t have major surgery like Ford did, and if his recent Instagram post is any indicator, he has recovered quite nicely.

Hicks isn’t an edge rusher, he’s a defensive tackle, but when healthy, he is one of the best defensive linemen in the league, and he has been the cornerstone of Chicago’s defense since his arrival in 2016. To completely ignore his impact on Mack and Quinn’s games is careless at best. When explaining why they elected to place Mack and Quinn in the honorable mention category, PFF didn’t mention Hicks at all:

“Mack remains a force along the defensive line. He has recorded at least 68 total pressures in each of the past five seasons, and he hasn’t produced a single-season run-defense or pass-rushing grade below 80.0 since his rookie season in 2014. Quinn figures to be an upgrade over Leonard Floyd on the other side of Mack after ending last season with a 78.3 pass-rushing grade. His 57 quarterback pressures for the Dallas Cowboys in 2019 were the most he has seen in a season since a dominant 2013 campaign with the then St. Louis Rams. That’s part of the reason the Bears only come in at honorable mention status, though. Quinn had several rough seasons toward the end of his tenure with the Rams and didn’t exactly qualify as a game-wrecker with the Miami Dolphins in 2018. Will he be able to build on a strong 2019 showing in Chicago?”

Other duos PFF chose over Mack and Quinn include Myles Garrett and Olivier Vernon of the Cleveland Browns, Cam Jordan and Marcus Davenport of the New Orleans Saints, Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram II of the Los Angeles Chargers and T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Mack and Quinn were listed with Von Miller and Bradley Chubb of the Denver Broncos in the honorable mention category.

There are some majorly formidable players listed there, but arguing that Quinn wasn’t exactly a game-wrecker in previous seasons and then placing the relatively unproven duo of T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree ahead of him and Mack is beyond questionable. Both Dupree and Watt had solid seasons in 2019, but the same logic PFF applied to Quinn — that he had several rough seasons prior to 2019 — is also true of Dupree, and Watt is nowhere near as dominant or as proven as Mack. Maybe in a few years, but not yet.

Perhaps being overlooked and disrespected will only make the Monsters of the Midway more monstrous. Either way, look for Mack and Quinn to be one of the more feared duos in the league this season.

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